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Today I want to talk about "Parental Hobbies That Might Possibly Embarrass Your Children." But first I want to tell you about "The Lady Who Turned Knitting into an Extreme Sport."

So, OK. I didn't know her personally, but everyone where I grew up knew who she was. Like the woman with the tortoise-shell comb who used to sell cosmetics at Auerbach's, The Lady Who Turned Knitting was iconic. For one thing, she had real presence, born of a can-do, straight-shooting attitude. She'd walk into any room, and boom! You knew she was there.

Also, there was the knitting thing.

Wherever she went, this woman took her knitting along for the ride. I once saw her at a luncheon sitting at a table, knitting away while everyone around her tucked into the cheesecake.

Where I saw her most often, however, was at basketball games, decked out in colors from head to toe. Dude, The Lady Who Turned Knitting knew how to represent.

And, holy cow, could she ever work magic with yarn and a pair of needles! While players stormed up and down the court like runaway freight trains, her fingers flat-out flew. I'm guessing if she were on her A-game, The Lady Who Turned Knitting could produce four afghans per game in front of the home crowd — five if things went into overtime.

A lifelong knitter myself, I was in complete awe of her ability. Also her attitude. Who cared if knitting in front of 23,000 spectators looked mildly eccentric? She was all, "Yo. I do what I want." Me, I could never knit in public like that.

Or so I thought. …

Lately, I have started to knit in public. Why? The older I get, the more ADD I feel. Sitting for any length of time — especially in meetings — is physically painful. But here's what I've discovered: Knitting helps me to NOT fly out of my seat, run around the room and bang my head against all four walls. Plus, check out this bonus. I've also discovered that knitting in public makes your kids squirm. WHICH IS AWESOME!

They're all, "Really, Mom? We're eating hamburgers at Hires and you're knitting socks again?"

And I'm all, "Watch me, suckers!"

Then I throw down a "sl st,k1, PSSO, k1" combination, after which I shout, "Boo-yah," as well as "Who's your daddy!"

Embarrassing your kids in public is good for them, right? It totally builds character! And, in fact, the more embarrassed my kids are, the bolder I get. That's why I've been sitting on the beach this week with them down here in Southern California, knitting a pink baby blanket. In broad daylight! And life has been great! Until I started looking at myself through the eyes of the family renting the beach house next to ours.

So, OK. About this family. There's a lot of tanness going on with these people. Also lots of chest muscles. Also lots of fist-pumping. If they were a reality TV show, this tan, chestally endowed family would be "Jersey Shore."

Meanwhile, they're looking at me with my Utah license plate, knitting a pink baby blanket on the beach, and going, "Yep. 'Sister Wives.' "

And this, it must be said, has achieved the result my kids have only dreamed of. As we speak, I'm putting down my needles (slowly), raising my hands in the air (slowly) and backing away (also slowly) from that baby blanket.

Because you know how it is. Some things can just wait until we get back to Hires.

Ann Cannon can be reached at or